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History of Geology

History of Geology

What rocks tell and how we came to understand it

For Valentine’s Day: Love can move Mountains (sort of)

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January 11, 1996 a single seismograph of the Geological Survey of Canada buried in a quiet wooded area on central Vancouver Island started to record an unusual strong seismic signal - slowly, but perpetually increasing in amplitude over time it was recorded only at this station - nearby station (located within a radius of 20km) didn´t show any movements - this was no ordinary 6.8 magnitude earthquake as could occur along the Cascadia Subduction Zone.

Fig.1. Seismogram showing a segment of the unusual seismic signal (from CASSIDY & WHITFORD 1996 - copyright for it is most likely owned by either the author or publisher, it is believed that the use of low-resolution images for discussion and education purpose qualifies as fair use under United States copyright law).

After one-half hour there was a sudden increase in intensity of the signal. The geologists at the Pacific Geoscience Centre in Sidney, 125 km distant of the seismograph position and monitoring the unusual signal, decided to call the police and a nearby a public school to check the situation.

Meanwhile the signal amplitude continued to increase - and an ever increasing number of puzzled technicians and scientist gathered around the monitoring equipment at the Geoscience Centre. At 4:28 PM - 43 minutes after the unusual recording was first noted - the signal suddenly stopped.

Later it was confirmed that it was exactly at 4:28 PM that the police officers and the school staff arrived at the seismograph site, where they found a young couple, trembling in passion and the source of the recorded Love Waves and supposed man-made quake...

Bibliography:

CASSIDY, J.F. & WHITFORD, A. (1996): Unusual "Love Waves" Recorded Above the Cascadia Subduction Zone. Seismological Research Letters. Vol. 67(6): 49-51

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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